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SCHS boys' head basketball coach Mike Clark knows his Rockets will have their work cut out for them tomorrow night when the Rockets (18-8) face host Spencer County (13-14) in the first round of the 30th District Tournament at 7 p.m.
"There's a couple of things going in that we need to understand," Clark said. "We have to stop Craig Edwards and Zach Shields. We can't let them get easy looks or post-up position down low. Luckily we have forwards that are capable of defending out on the floor and down in the paint. But we have to focus our defense on slowing them down."
In the regular season meeting between Spencer and Shelby on Feb. 14 (a 55-50 Shelby home win), the Rockets were able to hold Shields to just two field goals and six points. However, Edwards got hot early and scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the first half.
"We want to make things tough on them," Clark said. "We can't let them make their cuts or get to their spots easily."
Despite just a five-point win in the regular season meeting, Clark said he and his team are confident going into the first-round match-up, because of the way the team has ended the regular season -- winning five of their last seven games.
"We're very confident going into Thursday's game, and, more importantly, our players are confident," he said. "We've been shooting the ball very well, and playing well overall over the last couple of weeks. Plus, we have a solid senior class of Coty Minnis, Alex Matthews, Tim Sanford and Alex Shehan that have been in these tough games before and can carry us if we start to struggle."
With the district tournament being played at Spencer, the Rockets will likely face a hostile crowd. However, Clark said that shouldn't be an issue.
"We're battle tested, especially late in the regular season, with games at Madison Central, Elizabethtown, Simon Kenton and St. X," he said. "We were able to win some of those games, and we know what it takes to play on the road. We know that Spencer County is always better in their own gym than on the road, but I know our guys will be ready for them."
The Anderson County Bearcats (19-4) faced Eminence (2-22) in the first round of play last night. Although the results were not available at press time, Anderson County was a heavy favorite to advance to Saturday's final. Anderson County beat Eminence 73-40 at home in the regular season meeting.
"I think Anderson definitely has the easier road to the finals," Clark said. "And they're definitely one of three or four teams that have a chance to win region. But I think we're right there with Anderson County as one of those top teams."
Clark said that no matter what happens Thursday or Saturday in the finals, the team that draws the loser of the 30th District will no doubt have the toughest first-round draw in the region tournament.
"Winning the district is definitely one of our goals, but we know we're going to have to play very well. Spencer County has a solid ball club, and Anderson County is very good. C.J. Penny has had an outstanding year. They're a very talented high school basketball team."
The top two teams from the district will advance to the 8th Region Tournament.
District tourney tickets
Tickets for Thursday's game will be sold at the gate at Spencer County only. The school will have 1,000 tickets available, and the gates will open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. tip-off.
The championship game tickets will be sold at the participating schools only, and each school will be allotted 500 tickets.